Sunday, August 13, 2017

Drinking Coca-Cola Darkens the Skin

Will Storr, The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science (New York: The Overlook Press, 2015), 38-9.

[Storr is granted a ten-minute audience with Swami Ramdev, who is in London for a series of lectures on yoga.]

I move on to the reports that I have read in the Indian press of Ramdev telling children that Coca-Cola will turn their skin dark, a powerful message for vanity-conscious youngsters to whom pale complexions are desirable – and a statement that is unarguably wrong. I am curious to see if Ramdev will admit to saying this as, presumably, he is smart enough to realise that I know it to be untrue.

‘Did you once claim Coca-Cola darkens the skin?’ I say.

His eyes slide sideways, towards Shipra [his translator].

‘Even in the USA, the government has banned it in schools,’ he says.

‘But did you claim it darkens the skin?’

‘There has been scientific research that says it can be harmful to health.’

I put down my pen.

‘But did you say it darkens the skin? I just want to establish, for the record, if you’ve ever claimed this.’

He looks toward Shipra once more. I watch as a hot conference takes place between them in Hindi. Eventually, she tells me, ‘Swamiji just says that to the kids. It’s not necessarily true.’

Starving Goat Eats Flesh from Baby’s Arm (Somalia)

New York Times
13 August 2017


Mogadishu, Somalia — As I waited for my ride to collect me from the Mogadishu airport, an officer told me an apocryphal tale: A starving goat, blind from hunger, mistook a baby wrapped in a green cloth for grass and bit off a mouthful of emaciated flesh from the baby’s upper arm. The baby’s anguished cry brought the mother to her knees and she wept in prayer. The next day, a friend I met in Mogadishu repeated a variation of the same tale.

I saw the story as encapsulating much of what everyone needs to know about the goat-eats-baby severity of the current famine in the Somali Peninsula, with more than six million affected, crops wasting away, livestock dead or dying, water and foods scarce. […]

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Grass Seeding Ex’s Apartment; Inserting Anchovies in Curtains

Belfast Telegraph
12 August 2017

By Frances Burscough

[…] I remember once hearing about a woman whose recent ex had gone away on holiday with a new girlfriend. She still had the key to his house so the day he left she let herself in ... carrying a watering can, a packet of grass seeds and some fertilizer. Two weeks later, when he returned from his trip, the central heating was blasting out on full capacity and the carpet in his “good room” was now a thick and lush green lawn, with verdant long grass covering every inch and all his scatter cushions springing to life too.

Another tale I heard tell — whether it’s true or merely an urban myth we may never know — was about a jilted woman who also took out all her frustration on her ex’s soft furnishings. In this case she slipped in one day while he was out, armed with a sewing kit and a can of anchovies (the mind boggles doesn’t it?). But what she actually did was ingenious and diabolical in equal measure. Apparently this woman (at once mad, bad and dangerous to know, I think you will agree) then proceeded to carefully unpick the hems on all the curtains in every room and then deftly inserted anchovies inside the seams before sewing them back together. Of course she won’t have been there to witness the fall-out, but suffice to say that after a couple of days his house started to smell of rotten fish. Two weeks and umpteen cans of Air Wick later, the smell was so intense he had to move out. Like I said, ingenious — but don’t quote me on that. […]